28 December 2010

Fifa sets audit of PFF subsidy

Cedelf P. Tupas

The International Football Federation (Fifa) will conduct an audit on its $250,000 subsidy to the Philippine Football Federation, which underwent a leadership change recently.

The audit will be conducted by KPMG Fides Peat from Zurich, Switzerland, Fifa assistant general secretary Marcus Kattner told PFF general secretary Ramon Manuel in a letter.

Fifa releases $250,000 (about P11 million) annually to developing football nations under its Financial Assistance Program. But 2010 being a World Cup year, the PFF received an extra $125,000 (P5.5 million) with another $125,000 to be disbursed soon.

Kattner did not say whether the audit was prompted by allegations of fund misuse, illegal disbursements and the failure to return of funds by former PFF president Jose Mari Martinez.

PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said it marked the first time Fifa had initiated an audit on the federation.

“I believe the audit is random and we were just chosen this year,” said Araneta, who got an overwhelming vote to replace Martinez during the PFF Congress, an election that was validated by Fifa.

The PFF usually sends its annual audit report conducted by a local firm to Fifa.

Upon the request of its Board of Governors, the PFF had actually conducted an audit from September 2009 to June 2010 that revealed that P3.4 million of funds were unaccounted for.

The PFF also receives subsidy from the Asian Football Confederation and Asean Football Federation. The country’s national team, however, issued a statement that it hadn’t received a single centavo from the PFF for its participation in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The national team, fondly called Azkals, made history by reaching the meet’s semifinals for the firts time, triggering a rare upsurge of football interest in the country.

Martinez, who has remained defiant despite Fifa’s decision to recognize Araneta, had earlier denied misappropriating funds during his term.

But his removal was actually an offshoot of his failure to return of the P2.8 million from PFF coffers and suspected illegal disbursements and allegedly falsifying documents that allowed businessman Henry Tsai to be one of the signatories of the PFF account.

Martinez said his only mistake was trusting Tsai, whom he had broken ties with because of Tsai’s failure to deliver commitments to the federation.

Meanwhile, Araneta said he will attend the AFF Council Meeting in Jakarta today in his first official function as PFF president.

Araneta will focus on mapping out a realistic football program for the country.

“We have a great opportunity to uplift football in the country,” said Araneta.


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